Hiking is great in Indian Lake, even on a rainy day
Overall I would have to say I had a pretty good, constructive fall season. The rains that typically soak the region this time of year have not been all that unforgiving. The weather comes and goes as the days progress. We've seen a bit of snow and a lot of sunshine, and thankfully the rain vacates soon after it arrives, not like those pesky third cousins who show up in the Winnebago, park on your lawn, and let their slobbering dog run rampant around every inch of your yard. That only happens in the movies, right?
Heading to Bullhead Pond
The day we had available for a hike didn't have a promising forecast, so we changed our plans a bit and made the most of it. When I say we, I am talking about me and my son Kole. No, it's true, I actually got him to go hiking and what did we have? A soggy day to look forward to! Kole would just have to wait for Wakley Mountain to happen on another day. With tuning down our game plan we decided to do a bit of pond hopping instead. This brought us to Indian Lake.
Our first stop once we set the wheels to the pavement was to hike back to Bullhead Pond. This small pond resting a mere 0.6 miles from the trailhead would be the groundbreaking of the day. We suited up in our red wool jackets, for hunting season safety, and we were on our way. Once up over the parking lot berm we hit the trail in ripe old fashion. The trail was very easy, aside from the slippery wet leaves that coated it like a blanket. The trail seemed to go around anything that looked like there would be any elevation involved, and it was fine with us to have a lazy stroll. The very last bit dropped down to the shore of Bullhead Pond and dropped me to my backside. The slippery leaves on the water-glazed rocks took both feet right out from under me. Kole had some sarcastic comment that I fail to remember, but I'm sure it was a good one. He can be quite witty at times.
No luck on Center Pond
Once we snapped a few photos and checked out the shoreline a bit, we returned to the trailhead and set off for another pond. There was another super shorty of a hike to a small backcountry gem called Center Pond. It's only a 0.1 mile hike, so we knew it wouldn't be much of an adventure as long as I could stay on my feet. The hard part was locating the trail, which is on a back road that is off of another back road. We drove around a bit using the map we had but that brought us to the Clear Pond Trail. We must have driven right by our destination. I broke out the GPS and that got us in the vicinity but there was still no trailhead, so we decided not to venture blindly onto private land to locate it.
McGinn Hill, a Verplanck Colvin destination
There was a small peak that I had never climbed which was waiting in the reserves for a day just like this — McGinn Hill. The summit of this knob has called my name a few times in the past but I have always passed it by to save for a rainy day. Look at this, we have one! I knew the forest would be wet and the lack of a trail would just transfer that liquid sunshine onto our jackets, but being less than a 1-mile round-trip venture, I think we would be OK. I didn't want to carry my pack, but I practice what I preach and never leave it behind. I parked the car at the corner of Route 28 and Chamberlain Road and off we went.
The forest was open like the other peaks in the Indian Lake Region, as I suspected it would be . It actually looked like it might have been old farmland at one time, but I haven't looked any more into that deduction. The going was quite easy as we slowly climbed up to the base of the summit crown. The last 100 feet of elevation gain was steep. With the wet conditions under foot, it didn't make it any easier to move forward with any momentum. We might as well have been on snow.
There were limited viewing opportunities from the summit. Not from a lack of looking, but even if there were some grandiose opening our view would still have been limited because the clouds had taken us in. The summit did have a cairn, survey disk and two other disks atop boulders pointing back to the high point of McGinn Hill. There were also a couple survey tie-down loops driven into the summit rock. They looked like something Verplanck Colvin would have used during his Adirondack survey back in the late 1800s. Once I got home I did a bit of research and learned that Colvin was on McGinn Hill back in 1896 doing a survey of the area. There must have been fewer trees back then. Colvin was also noted for burning or clearing summits to gain better a line-of-sight. Surely, he must have done that here, too.
The day had come to an end, mainly because we called it. The rain looked to be moving in and eventually it did, so it was good to get back on the road early, leaving us both time to take in a good late lunch.